United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

The Director-General participates in the 90th anniversary celebrations of Latvia

On 27 November 2008, Mr Koďchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, and Ms Helena Demakova, Minister of Culture of Latvia, opened an exhibition on the Latvian song and dance celebrations entitled “The Largest Choir in the World/When Many Become One”.

The exhibit was organized at UNESCO Headquarters as part of the 90th anniversary celebrations of the Republic of Latvia. Ambassador Karklins, Permanent Delegate of Latvia to UNESCO also attended the ceremony.

Recalling his official visit to the country in 2001, the Director-General highlighted the vitality of cultural traditions in Latvia and the importance its people attached to the preservation of this heritage, which is at the heart of the Latvian national identity, noting that “It is precisely this capacity of renewal and transmission that led to the Latvian songs and dances, as an integral part of the celebrations of the Baltic songs and dances, being proclaimed as a masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”.

Referring to the integration of this tradition as part of the 90 masterpieces in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity at the third session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, in Istanbul earlier in the month, Mr Matsuura recalled that Latvia had been among the first ten countries to have ratified the 2003 Convention and stated that “this international recognition is a just tribute to the constant efforts of the Latvian authorities to promote the safeguarding of their intangible cultural heritage”. “It is also a tribute to the Latvian people as a whole who were able to preserve and transmit this heritage from generation to generation.”

During her intervention, Minister Demakova expressed her satisfaction at having had two important events organized in the course of the year of celebrations of Latvia’s 90th anniversary – the launch of construction works of the Latvian National Library last June and the Song and Dance Festival in July – held under UNESCO’s auspices.

Prior to the ceremony, the Director-General and the Minister had a meeting to discuss the advancement of bilateral cooperation with a focus on culture-related activities, in particular with regard to the preservation of the World Heritage-listed Historic Centre of Riga, the preservation and restoration of other heritage sites and the establishment of a state agency for intangible cultural heritage.

Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 170-2008 -  Publication Date: 28-11-2008

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